Have you ever felt like your stomach was satisfied but your mouth was still hungry? This confusing feeling is due to the cephalic phase digestive response. “Cephalic” is just a fancy word for “head,” so think of this like digestion for your brain. If you eat food while you’re distracted or in a big hurry, you won’t notice the qualities of your food (things like aroma, taste, and texture). Your brain doesn’t notice these things by itself, so if you don’t pay attention to the qualities of your food, your brain won’t notice that you are full. Consequently, you might find yourself binge eating in the kitchen right before bed, because your mouth is screaming FEED ME even though your stomach is content. Why does this happen? Your brain craves pleasure like it craves water. If you want to stop your food cravings at night, you need to slow down and nourish your body.

1. Give yourself 5 extra minutes to eat.

How long do you usually take to eat breakfast? If you take 5 minutes to eat every morning, give yourself 10 minutes tomorrow. Keep that up for a week and then add another 5 minutes to make it a total of 15. Eating slowly will feel funny at first, so let’s start slow to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Repeat this strategy with lunch and dinner too. Continue to slowly add time to all of your meals and bask in the eating experience.

2. Put your fork down between every bite.

If you have a hard time slowing down at the dinner table, try this: put your fork down after each and every bite. Chew slowly and focus on the taste, texture, and aroma of your food. You could make a fun game out of this by trying to guess all of the ingredients that were used in your dish. It takes 15-20 minutes for your body to signal that it is satisfied by a meal. Slowing down will help you become more satisfied with less food, resulting in fewer calories consumed and pounds lost.

3. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer.

Eating is to be done at the kitchen table and nowhere else. If you eat while you are distracted, you won’t notice the qualities of your food (so your brain’s needs for pleasure won’t be fulfilled) and you will miss out on your body’s hunger signal (so you will eat more calories than you really need). Stop looking at eating like it is just a thing you have to do. Eating should not be considered an inconvenience, but rather, a joyous occasion. Stop depriving your body of the quality food (and time) it deserves. Start nourishing it instead.

4. Eat more healthy fats, fiber, and protein.

These nutrients will help your body feel more full and satisfied without a whole lot of calories required. Good sources of healthy fats include nuts, grass-fed steak, free range eggs, butter, olive oil, avocado, and fish. You can find fiber in oatmeal, raspberries, oranges, brown rice, hummus, and vegetables. High protein foods include lean meats, yogurt, beans/legumes, and milk.

5. Drink a big glass of ice water first.

The feelings of hunger and thirst are often confused. It doesn’t help that most of us spend our days in an eternal state of dehydration. Feeling hungry? Before you take a single bite, pour yourself a big glass of ice water and drink that. Wait for about 15-20 minutes. If you’re still hungry at that point, dig in (but make a positive choice!). 

Do you have any extra tips to stop food craving at night? If you struggle with cravings, do you have any questions? What kinds of foods do you get hungry for especially? 

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